This fascinating antique wooden statue depicts the Taoist God of Literature and Culture, Wenchang Wang. The statue was likely hand-carved in China in the 1700’s, but it is quite possible that it predates the 18th century. An iron stand has been added to the back more recently, although a portion of the back is excavated, indicating that the statue was once part of a larger installation.
Wenchang has been posed in a seated position with his hands clasped in front of his body, which is a common representation of the god in artwork. The hands have a shallow incised section, indicating that Wenchang once held an object. Based on other statues and drawings of Wenchang from this time, it was most likely a hu scepter that once accompanied the statue. Wenchang is clad in an ankle-length robe and a ridged headdress. Although the statue’s color is predominantly natural wood, very old traces of polychrome can be seen throughout the piece indicating that it was once vividly painted.
In China, those who study hard, and test well are often rewarded with high-ranking civil service jobs. The common belief is that Wenchang guides these scholars, leading many to seek his assistance. A statue of this size indicates it could have once been commissioned for a Chinese temple. Today, our wooden statue of Wenchang Wang would make a perfect piece of art in a study or library. It would work well with any contemporary interior, or with an interior displaying other very old Chinese artifacts.
*The statue was photographed in our store while on top of a French limestone pedestal block. The stone can be shipped along with the statue if so desired.*
CONDITION: Wear commensurate to age, with losses to wood and paint. Age separations and missing element, possibly a hu scepter that would have been held in his hands. The iron stand has been added more recently. Please see photos for details.
H - 43, W - 20 3/8, D - 19 (measurements do not include the limestone block seen in some photos)
Antique Wooden Statue of Wenchang Wang, God of Literature and Culture, China 18th C./Earlier
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